Surgically induced astigmatism after cataract surgery – a vector analysis

Langenbucher, Achim; Szentmáry, Nóra; Cayless, Alan; Gasazza, Marina; Weisensee, Johannes; Hoffmann, Peter and Wendelstein, Jascha (2022). Surgically induced astigmatism after cataract surgery – a vector analysis. Current Eye Research, 47 pp. 1279–1287.



Background: Surgically induced astigmatism (SIA) has been widely discussed in the literature as the change in corneal astigmatism resulting from corneal incision. The purpose of this study was to investigate the change in corneal refractive power preoperative to postoperative using a vector analysis of keratometry, total keratometry, and corneal back surface data from a modern optical biometer.

Methods: The analysis was based on a dataset of 122 eyes of 122 patients with preoperative and 1 month postoperative measurements performed with the IOLMaster 700 biometer from 1 clinical centre and a standardised surgical technique involving a corneal 2.5 mm 45°-incision made from the superior direction. Keratometry, total keratometry and corneal back surface data were processed in 3 vector components (spherical equivalent power SEQ and astigmatism considered in 0°/90° (C0°) and in 45°/135° (C45°) meridian), and the changes in corneal power vectors were analysed, comparing preoperative to postoperative values.

Results: The mean corneal power of total keratometry reduced slightly after cataract surgery (-0.05 dpt), resulting mostly from a decrease in back surface power (-0.04 dpt). The astigmatism vector component C0° of total keratometry reduced by -0.28 dpt, mostly due to a decrease at the corneal front surface (-0.26 dpt). With the corneal incision at 12 o’clock position this flattening in the 90° meridian refers to a SIA of around ¼ dpt. The change in C0° and the C45° astigmatic vector components for both keratometry and total keratometry show a large variation ranging between 0.24 and 0.33 dpt (standard deviations), indicating a poor predictability of the change in astigmatism due to cataract surgery.

Conclusion: Cataract surgery locally flattens the cornea in the incision meridian. This flattening shows a large individual variation and therefore a poor predictability. Our study indicates that SIA in modern cataract surgery with standardised corneal incision is in a range of 1/4 dpt.

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